Havamal – Stanza 2

Old Norse

Gefendur heilir!
Gestur er inn kominn!
Hvar skal sitja sjá?
Mjög er bráður
sá er á bröndum skal
síns um freista frama.

English Translations

Greetings to the host,
The guest has arrived,
In which seat shall he sit?
Rash is he who at unknown doors
Relies on his good luck,

-Auden & Taylor

Hail, ye Givers! a guest is come;
say! where shall he sit within?
Much pressed is he who fain on the hearth
would seek for warmth and weal.

-Bray

Givers, hail!
A guest is come in:
where shall he sit?
In much hast is he,
who on the ways has
to try his luck.

-Thorpe

My Understanding

The first half of stanza 2 seems to be translated consistently by most people. And sets up the stanza to be directed at the host. Posing the question Where shall he sit?

The latter part of the stanza tells the host to sit the guest by the fire and test their luck. The way I interpret this is to mean that the host is to test the newcomer to see if they have earned their place by the fire. This likely happened in a similar way as we in modern times question the new kid in school or a new employee. To test them and see what sort of person they are. 

Basic Lessons

– Welcome guests, but be cautious –

– Show hospitality first, and then make sure they deserve it –

Have Questions?

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